Most books about venture capital are incredibly clinical. They cover topics such as pricing and the composition of boards, with barely a nod to the skirmishes that sometimes break out between company founders and their venture investors. In Nothing Ventured (Harper Business, 1990), Robert J. Kunze, a veteran San Francisco venture capitalist, portrays the venture game with all its blood and tension. He wrote it, he tells us, "to demystify the process."

Kunze is at his best when telling dramatic stories about real companies. In one, a business becomes embroiled in a struggle between its stubborn founder, who wants to have his own production plant, and investors, who want him to use the money for other things. In another, we learn about an industrial-instrument company that gets stymied by a patent suit yet somehow manages to hang on by its fingernails -- for two years. In both cases, Kunze describes his role in getting the founding CEOs ousted.

Firings over breakfast, feelings of betrayal: not all the tales Kunze tells are uplifting. But if you want to see venture capital for what it is and what it's not, Kunze illuminates it well.

-- Bruce G. Posner

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